Hillel Schwartz, in his piece, “Fat and Happy?,” asserts that society is responsible, rather than the actual weight of the people, for the unhappiness and depression of the obese. With this in mind, he depicts what the world would be like if everyone was fat, while fantasizing of a world in which obesity is embraced and celebrated. First, however, he must admit the difficult truth that obesity is unaccepted in our world today.
Our society does not deal well with overweight people. In a world full of weight loss plans, drugs, diet plans, and exercise equipment, there is much pressure to become thin. Schwartz points out that when these attempts fail, people feel like failures. He claims it is the constant flux of weight, rather than the weight itself, that threatens the body. Also, overweight people are considered socially unacceptable. The same cruel cycle engulfing other minorities encompasses overweight people as they also have less of an advantage in the business world today. Society looks down on the overweight and ridicules them, telling them that they will die early just to make them not eat.
Doctors are just as cruel. Schwartz writes that fifty percent of all dieters are getting their dieting information from doctors who have hardly had any nutritional training. People are told that most of their problems result in fat. Doctors continue to refer these “problems” to psychologists and other professionals for “help”. Schwartz stresses that our society will not be content until all are practically emaciated.
Plump, chubby, chunky–whatever one calls it, what would our society be like if all were this way? This is the question Schwartz next considers, and he argues that it would be better. Dinners would be a fine occasion. Eating would be peaceful and gratifying. When they were fed, people would be fulfilled, because there would be no traps laid around food. There would be no eating disorders because no one would see a contrast between their own appearance and that of others.
Schwartz also hypothesizes that if everyone were fat, people’s overall attitudes would change. Everyone would be proud of and comfortable with his or her own body and, as a result, would dress proudly. Women would wear revealing clothes that accentuated their size. Everyone would live slower and less strenuous lives. He writes that there would be more to a person than what they look like. In addition, Schwartz remarks that there would be an end to dieting, and therefore people would no longer burn stored energy. In other words, no one would have to eat themselves, for that would be cannibalism. Finally, Schwartz states that no one would be forced to hide his or her own needs. In this imagined world, no one would have to be secretive about his or her eating habits because there would be no ridicule.
Although some of Schwartz’s statements may seem excessive, he does give evidence for each one. Having seemingly proven that society is to blame for the unhappiness of the overweight, and that our world would be much better if it was centered on overweight people, Schwartz concludes by describing this society, writing that no one would fear the wants of others, nor their own wants and wishes. As he writes, “All hunger would be honest hunger.”
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